Australian Council on Children and the Media

Snow White and the huntsman

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Not suitable under 13, PG to 15 due to disturbing themes and scenes

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Snow White and the huntsman
  • a review of Snow White and the huntsman completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 13 September 2012.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to violence and disturbing themes and scenes
Children 13-14 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and disturbing themes and scenes
Children 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Snow White and the huntsman
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Fantasy themes and violence
Length 127 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

In this adult version of the Snow White fairy tale, the Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) is not only evil and sadistic but seems to have a split personality as well. The Mirror represents her other persona and her own madness. Her stunning beauty immediately bewitches the recently widowed King Magnus (Noah Huntley) whom she kills on their wedding night. As reigning Queen she now has the powers to satisfy her lust for eternal youth and beauty which she can obtain by sucking the blood from young life forms.

Snow White (Kristen Stewart) is imprisoned as a child but on reaching adulthood becomes a threat to the Queen as the Mirror sees Snow White as pure of heart and innocent. The Queen orders her brother Finn (Sam Spruell) to kill Snow White but she manages to escape to the dark forest. Enraged, the Queen orders a professional huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to seek her out and kill her. The Huntsman however becomes quite attached to Snow White and becomes her protector as she has to evade capture by the Queen’s soldiers. Together they face many perils and find help along the way when they meet the Seven Dwarves in an enchanted forest. Snow White is more concerned with saving her kingdom than with having a romantic relationship and this makes an interesting twist to the original story.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

The supernatural; madness; eternal youth

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is quite a lot of violence (though no blood and gore) in this movie including:

  • King Magnus rides to battle with his soldiers to fight the dark army. When these soldiers are attacked with swords they explode into many fragments.
  • Queen Ravenna kills the King with a large dagger in his chest.
  • Queen Ravenna plucks the heart out of a bird with long false fingernails and drinks the blood.
  • Queen Ravenna picks up a young girl, Greta, by the throat and sucks her youth from her.
  • Snow White attacks Finn with a long nail which leaves a scar down his face.
  • Queen Ravenna hits out at Finn and screams at him.
  • Several battles between the huntsman and the Queen’s soldiers involving axes and swords.
  • The Queen’s soldiers attack a women’s camp where Snow White has taken refuge, burning down the huts and forcing the women and children to flee.
  • When the dwarves first see Snow White and the huntsman, they capture them, tie them upside down from a tree and hit the huntsman with sticks.
  • Finn almost kills the huntsman and delights in torturing him by telling him how he’d killed his wife.
  • The huntsman kills Finn.
  • One of the dwarves is killed in the battle.
  • The final battle scene is very violent – fire balls are sent over the castle walls to kill Snow White and the Duke’s soldiers. Volleys of arrows are also sent over and men and horses are seen being hit by these. Many people seem to be knocked down and killed.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged under five, including the following:

  • Snow White finds her father lying dead with a dagger in his chest.
  • The dark army throw Snow White into a prison cell where she remains until an adult.
  • Greta grows old immediately when the Queen sucks her youth from her.
  • The Mirror tells the Queen she must get Snow White’s heart to give her immortality.
  • The dark forest is very scary – Snow White sees dark wraith like creatures, hordes of beetles, snakes and dead birds.
  • A huge reptilian beast appears in the forest, knocks out the huntsman and roars at Snow White.
  • The Queen continuously transforms from being young and beautiful to being old and ugly.
  • The Queen recalls that as a child she was told by her mother to drink blood to retain her youth before she was captured by soldiers.
  • A particularly upsetting scene is when a beautiful white mountain goat is shot with arrows by the Queen’s soldiers.
  • When the huntsman kills Finn, the Queen feels his pain and falls to the ground writhing.
  • The Queen transforms into Prince William, Snow White’s childhood friend, and gives her a poisoned apple.
  • The huntsman attacks the Queen (as Prince William) with his axe, just as she’s about to take Snow White’s heart and she transforms into many crows.
  • The dwarves carry Snow White’s body back to the Duke’s castle.
  • The Queen stands in a circle of fire and her face appears to be glowing with embers.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned violent and disturbing scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned violent and disturbing scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • The King is shown in bed with the Queen, on top of her and kissing, before she kills him.
  • The Queen is shown nude from the lower back up, getting into a bath.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • The huntsman and the dwarves all drink quite a lot.
  • One of the dwarves jokes about feeling ‘lovely’ due to the mushrooms in the enchanted forest.
  • The poisoned apple

Coarse language

There is some mild coarse language in this movie, including:

  • “hell”; “damn”

In a nutshell

Snow White and the huntsman is an adult fairy tale that uses computer graphics to great effect to portray its themes of magic and the supernatural. It is a much darker version of the original story and too scary and disturbing for children and younger teens.

The main message from this movie is that purity and innocence are greater virtues than beauty.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • selflessness
  • care and compassion for others beings
  • bravery
  • heroism

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as that:

  • destroying other people and creatures destroys yourself
  • a thirst for total power breeds fear and hatred

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